Breastfeeding Problems &
Their Solutions

If you are a mom who nurses her baby, you may encounter breastfeeding problems such as sore nipples, leaking breasts, slow milk production, biting baby or sleep deprivation, at some point in your motherhood.

Breastfeeding is a no doubt a very beautiful, natural and healthy process for both mother and her newborn, yet every good thing comes with a price. Breastfeeding may seem as a "free" option for most of the non-breastfeeders (I think I just made up this term), yet the price a breastfeeding mom has to pay is enormous (not to mention sometimes the expense on buying breastfeeding accessories). Yes, she does get some relief from the financial tension of purchasing formula milk, bottles and sterilizers; but the pain and discomfort that, at times, mothers go through cannot be ignored.

The intention behind writing this article is to help you cope with breastfeeding problems as these breastfeeding issues are faced by a majority of breastfeeding mothers. Maybe you are one of them too. Keep in mind the enormous benefits of breastfeeding so these breastfeeding issues don't put you off.

1. Sore Nipples

Also referred to as cracked nipples, sore nipples are one of the leading breastfeeding problems. You may experience frequent sore nipples if you have just started breastfeeding. Nipples are made up of very delicate tissues, and improper positioning/ latching may end up making them sore and bleed.

Make sure your newborn baby has a correct latching position. If you have a bleeding nipple, discontinue feeding your baby from that breast till the nipple heals.

How to heal sore nipples:

  1. An ideal healer is the breast milk itself – squeeze out a couple of milk drops from your breast and apply it on the affected area. This is something that is proven to be a miracle healer. 
  2. Apply warm and wet tea bags for 10 - 15 minutes on the sore nipples right after breastfeeding. It tends to be very soothing for the mother.
  3. Ask your doctor about a good ointment that you can use on your cracked nipples. 
  4. Frequently change breastfeeding/ nursing pads if you use them. Also, make sure the bra you wear is of the right size, and is not to tight. Click here for a look at breastfeeding accessories you may want to have.

Remember, your baby did not hurt your nipple purposely, so blaming and scolding your infant is not the solution to your breastfeeding problems. Sometimes baby blues may make you think stuff that you would never think otherwise. It is quite natural to feel low, cranky and depressed after delivery - even weeks after the delivery. This may be a sign of postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor about your mood swings or low energy level.

2. Lack of Milk Production

In your initial breastfeeding days, the breastmilk may appear to come in little quantities. This results in you and your newborn both trying hard to get the milk out, which cause the delicate nipples to crack and bleed.

Since this is a very important subject that the new breastfeeders (did I also make this term up? ) want to know about, we have a separate article on it. It is one of our most read articles so you would not want to miss it, would you? Click here to read our article on the 8 effective ways to improve the flow and quality of your breast milk.

3. Biting Baby

Not all breastfeeding problems are encountered at the beginning. Some of them appear even when you feel that there is nothing more convenient than breastmilk.

Babies love biting - they really enjoy it. Give them a ball, they will try to bite it really hard. Give them the TV remote and they will chew off a button or two (or even more)! Give them your breast, and again, they will love to bite it! And many babies seem to enjoy their mother’s reaction upon biting. As if it’s some kind of a game – they bite and mommy screams. This game of action-and-reaction may sound like fun to your baby, but for you, it sure is a very painful experience.

How to stop a biting baby:

  • First of all, no matter how little your baby is, he needs to be taught the meaning of “No”. He bites you and you tell your baby “If you bite, no milk for you” and stop feeding for sometime. At first your baby may not understand it but sooner or later, he would realize that when he bites, he gets deprived of breast milk. Make sure you tell him to stop biting with a stern face – it is something that hurts you and you need to communicate this to your child.
  • If you feel that you are feeling constant pain in the nipple that was bit by your baby, consult your doctor. It may end up catching an infection and your doctor may have to prescribe you some medicines to cure it.
  • Many babies bite because they are in pain during their teething days. Make sure you use pain relieving ointment or a home remedy like using cold spoons and ice on gums to soothe them. For details on providing relief to your teething baby, read our article on Baby Teething.

4. Leaking Breasts

This is a mother's nightmare - wearing the perfect outfit at the most awaited event of the year and the dripping starts!

Many many years ago when I was a little girl (okay not that much of a many) and had absolutely no idea about the technicalities of breastfeeding, I attended a cousin’s wedding. While enjoying my tea in a group of somewhat ten people, I suddenly noticed that the lady sitting in front of me has dripped some liquid on her pretty silk blouse. As a reflex, I offered her a napkin and told her about the spill. She suddenly got embarrassed in front of the whole group and excused herself away. Everyone started looking here and there sheepishly until an aunt of mine shook me by my elbow and slightly whispered in my ear something that I did not get at that time, but I do now! The spill on the lady’s blouse was not a beverage; it was the leaking breast milk.

*Drip Drip*

Causes of leaking breasts:

A leaking breast is not a strange concept in a mother’s world when she is breastfeeding her baby. In fact, it is one of the most common breastfeeding problems. There are many reasons why the breast leaks.

  • Sometimes the breast has produced too much milk that it starts overflowing.
  • Many a times, just the thought of your baby may cause your breast milk to dribble.
  • At times when you are breastfeeding your baby from one breast, the other one starts to pour out its offerings.

How to handle a leaky breast:

  • Use breast pads. If you are going out, always wear breast pads as you never know when the breast starts to trickle. This is something you do not have any control over, so be prepared for it. Read more about breastfeeding accessories here.
  • An overflowing breast tells us that we need to breastfeed our baby as the milk has reached its maximum capacity level – so keep on breastfeeding your baby at short intervals to avoid your breasts becoming full of milk and overflowing. You can also express and store some breast milk for future use. But make sure you don't over express it as the more you keep on expressing, the more will the breasts generate milk.
  • Washable plastic breast shells can come handy if your breasts overflow a lot. You can sterilize these breast shells and the milk that gets collected inside these shells can then be reused.
  • When feeding your baby from one breast, make sure you put a little towel or soft cloth under the other breast. Make sure you regularly change your bras and breast pads as you would not want to get sore breasts and any sort of infection.
  • And here is an important tip: always wear clothes that can camouflage the dripping milk. If you wear fabrics and colors that can be easily stained and they stand out in the crowd, stop!! The last thing you would want in a public gathering would be people looking at your breasts and chuckling away. Normally stains are prominent on silks and clothes that are of a single color/ shade.
  • If you are at a party and have left your baby at home with a nanny or caregiver, stop thinking about your baby. It may seem hard, but really, stop it. The more you think about your baby, the more will be the chances of you having a breast leak.

5. Interruption in sleep

This is one of the common breastfeeding problems that moms face.

When I started to breastfeed my daughter, I was very much disturbed by the interrupted sleep routine that I had to go through due to my newborn’s bizarre breastfeeding schedule. Though it was not one of the direct breastfeeding problems, it ended up in a lot of frustration. I would fall asleep only to be awakened by a crying baby demanding breast milk. This made me realize what a troublesome experience breastfeeding was - an absolutely insane perception!

But I wasn’t the only mother who used to get such feelings. A majority of first-time moms deem breastfeeding difficult in their early couple of weeks. Soon, all of them get the hang of it. So, if you are a new mother who is worried about breastfeeding problems and the discomfort that breastfeeding gives you at night and the sleep deprivation it causes, don’t worry. Soon it will become a routine for you and you could easily sleep through the night even with your little one getting his normal feeds.

Cosleeping makes breastfeeding easy as the mother can sleep while nourishing the baby - talking about and multitasking! Learn more about co-sleeping by clicking here.

Click here to enter our baby sleep section to get all the help you need to make your newborn baby sleep through the night. If your baby has a proper sleep routine, you will end up having a fresh baby and an even fresher you!

Every problem has a solution; and same goes with breastfeeding problems. If you have already nursed your baby and are having difficulty in stopping the breastfeeding process, refer to our article on How to Stop Breastfeeding. You can also choose to extend this time. If you are wondering how long should you breast feed for, refer to Extended Breastfeeding.

By addressing the above mentioned breastfeeding problems (read some very important breastfeeding tips by clicking here) you will soon find breastfeeding as your second nature. Remember, the benefits breastfeeding brings clearly outweighs all the breastfeeding problems. Period.


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